Volume 35, Number 7, July 2000

Back in the Saddle

Project Managers Tumbled into Texas
for GANA’s Educational Seminar

by Ellen Giard

Tumbleweeds weren’t all that rolled through Texas in June. Nearly 100 glass professionals from across the country made their way to the Embassy Suites Outdoor World in Grapevine for the Glass Association of North America’s (GANA) second annual Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) Educational Seminar for Project Managers held June 1-3. The annual event is the only industry event devoted entirely to the daily challenges and faced by building envelope project managers.

 

On the Road Again

With a chance to learn more about a leading industry supplier, seminar attendees, many of whom had rolled into town only hours before, hopped a bus for the scheduled tour of the nearby Vistawall plant in Terrell (see sidebar on opposite page). The tour provided the opportunity for participants to see the fabrication, production and distribution procedures of Vistawall first-hand. “For those who had never been through an aluminum manufacturing facility, we wanted this tour to be an educational experience,” said Dan Rogers, Vistawall’s EP sales manager. “We wanted them to gain a knowledge of all aspects of the manufacturing process, and it gave us an opportunity to build better working relationships with those in attendance,” he added.

While on route to the plant, travelers took in an added bonus by observing a number of construction sites throughout the downtown Dallas area and vicinity, and enjoyed the unique design scheme of the structures’ window and curtainwall usage.

 wpe22.jpg (7274 bytes)Cindy Lindquist of Viracon was one of the conference’s many speakers.

A Bright Start

Friday morning marked the official start-up of the weekend’s programs, covering a wide range of topics. Andy Gum of Thomas Glass Company Inc. in Columbus, Ohio, and a BEC board of directors’ member, welcomed participants to the event’s official beginning. He noted that attendance was up from 65 the year before to more than 100 this year, and encouraged attendees to take an active part in the scheduled activities. “In order to get the most out of this event,” he said, “I encourage you to network, participate and ask questions.”

The first seminar was led by Linda Gomez and Monty Huffman of BPS Equipment Rental in Arlington, Texas, titled, Job Safety in Building Construction Equipment. The two stressed the importance of complying with OSHA standards and provided ways and means to make construction sites safer for all workers, and in the long run, reduce the number of construction-related deaths.

Two seminars were led by Hilti Inc. representatives—John Silva discussed analysis methods for anchorage systems and Guy Bradley led Life Safety and Passive Fire Stopping, noting such statistics as 67 percent of fire deaths are due to gas and smoke inhalation and more than 44 percent of people killed in fires are not in the room of the fire’s origin.

Other first-day seminars included Glass Performance Technology, by Cindy Lindquist of Viracon, which discussed basic glass processes, and fabrication techniques; and Glazing Guidelines—The Importance of the Details, by Bill Lingnell of Lingnell Consulting Services. This presentation included such topics as glass and glazing functions, codes and design criteria.

 

Wise Words

If two cups of coffee weren’t helping attendees wake up Friday morning, the first seminar most likely did. Speakers, Steve Barber of Arcadia Products, Andy Gull of Model Glass Company and Gum started the day off with a light-hearted presentation, The Coordination of Project Estimating & Project Management. This included a short, humorous skit depicting common project manager misconceptions.

Contract issues, a major job consideration for project managers, were covered in Killer Clauses in Construction Documents, by Fred Wilshusen, a construction attorney with Thomas, Feldman & Wilshusen LLP. “It’s valuable to be educated as to what is in the contract, even if you can’t negotiate the clauses out,” he said. “And still, there are some general contractors who are willing to
negotiate.”

Keith Hallman, a project manager with Cartner Glass Systems Inc. in Charlotte, N.C., found the contracts portion of the seminars one of the most beneficial aspects. “We are almost always fighting with general contractors over contracts,” he said. “The issues addressed in that seminar were very helpful to us.”

With construction projects growing rapidly across the country, many industry professionals admit that staying organized is a task all in itself. To help relieve some of the tension in trying to stay organized in such a fast-paced profession, Mollie Hines of Oldcastle Glass Inc. presented a time management seminar. Her energetic speaking style and casual attitude had listeners assessing their own levels of “workaholism.” She cited the four major lacks that tend to keep individuals behind: lack of a plan, lack of delegation, lack of organization and lack of communication.

“If you don’t know where you are going, you are never going to get there,” she said. Hines also explained that one of the number one methods for becoming organized is better planning. “Write things down,” she said, “Whether in a diary or a spiral bound notebook, writing things down will help you stay better organized.”

 

Team Work

While seminars gave project managers an edge on staying ahead, other educational activities also were held daily for the conference. Friday afternoon participants broke off into focus groups for a project aimed at giving attendees the opportunity to not only hear members of his or her profession discuss certain topics and viewpoints, but to also share individual ideas and solutions.

Attendees separated into eight groups composed of individuals representing different companies. Parti-cipants from the same company worked in different groups so ideas and influences remained unbiased and unfocused in one particular direction. “This is project managers teaching project managers,” said Bill Keen, focus group moderator from Tepco Contract Glazing in Dallas. “One of the best ways to learn is from others who are doing the same as you are,” he added.

Focus group topics included Dealing with Change Orders and RFI’s, Alternatives at Bid Time, Developing a Project Schedule, Monitoring Field Labor, Shop Drawings, Project Management Checklist and Project Documentation and Delays – How to Avoid Them, How to Use Them. Groups worked together to find solutions to certain projects and situations and a chosen speaker from each group made a ten minute presentation of the group’s solutions on Saturday.

 

That’s a Wrap

While most of those participating in the conference were glazing project managers, there was at least one general contractor (GC) taking part as well. Though working with the projects’ GC can often be a major struggle for glazing contractors, Bill Nash, a GC from McCarthy Construction Co. in St. Louis, Mo., took part in the conference.

“We all have to work together,” said Nash. “I’m here trying to learn more about the industry and how things are changing and where things are going,” he added.

Unfortunately, two days does not provide enough time to extensively cover every issue project managers face. And though the seminars tackled many key points, there were still those that would like to have heard more.

“I would like to have seen more on contract issues and codes,” said Hallman. “Requirements are starting to get tight and it’s important to keep people in the industry up to date on what’s going on with codes.”

Upon the conference’s Saturday afternoon closing, Greg Carney, GANA technical director provided each participant with a certificate of completion and a GANA glazing manual.

“I was quite pleased with this year’s seminar, both in the attendance and the discussions,” said Carney. “Last year our focus was just on project management, while this year we tried to go with more of a mix by incorporating industry technologies as well.”

Many participants in this year’s conference were just as pleased as Carney with the overall turnout, and there’s no doubt the attending project managers took away an abundance of ideas and information which will benefit both project and business relations.

Vistawall Extends a Bit of Texas Hospitality

wpe24.jpg (14587 bytes)Jim Logan (far right) explained the Versalite Skylight system to tour participants.

Before hitting the grind of seminars and educational events, The Vistawall Group of Terrell, Texas, hosted a facility tour for participants of GANA’s project managers seminar. The Vistawall Group, which includes Vistawall Architectural Products, Modu-Line Window Systems, Naturalite Skylights and Skywall Translucent Systems, operates out of more than 600,000-square-feet of manufacturing capacity on 64 acres of land.

Divided into four groups, Jim Logan, Terrell general plant manager, Ray Webb, EP plant manager, Richard Ray, general manager, and Dudley Daniels, door supervisor, served as tour guides for the day’s event. As temperatures neared 100 degrees, participants were led through production, fabrication and distribution phases of the plant viewing such measures as skylight formations, active extrusion presses, in progress fabrications, testing areas and painting and anodizing procedures.
Groups were also shown design and engineering aspects of the plant, where the company has 85 engineering employees, working off of 45 CAD systems.

In addition, the company is planning several new workstations as well as new office space within the plant to bring customer representatives closer to the products.

At the tours end, attendees stepped out of the heat and cooled off at a reception and cocktail party hosted by Vistawall. The relaxed atmosphere made for an inviting and casual networking opportunity for participants, as well as Vistawall employees.

Ellen Giard is an assistant editor of USGlass magazine.


USG

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